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Beta Season

In the season of trials,software giants are releasing updated versions of their products,which promise to be faster and smoother

Written by Pranay Parab | New Delhi | Published: April 8, 2012 2:25:26 am

In the season of trials,software giants are releasing updated versions of their products,which promise to be faster and smoother

Windows 8

Ever since the iPad came along,desktop operating systems (OS) have moved towards a more mobile look and feel. Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 carries this forward. One look at the number of editions Windows 8 is launching proves greater integration across all devices. Microsoft wants to bring the Metro-style interface that Windows Phone 7 users enjoy,to the desktop as well. Soon we are likely to see similarities across devices running Windows 8. Apple will take some time to achieve this as the iOS may not come to Macs too soon.

As far as the OS is concerned,Microsoft has focused on improving performance,so tablet and netbook owners should be able to enjoy it as much as their desktop-users. The screen is occupied by various tiles,for instance,the email tile will tell you about unread mails,sender details,etc.

The cloud is given greater importance,with a Microsoft account doing all the synchronisation in Windows 8. Users can now sync all settings from one Windows 8 PC to another too. Those using more than one Windows 8 PC need not start from scratch any longer.

OS X 10.8

After Snow Leopard came the Lion. Many Mac users debated about the name of the next release. After all,which creature can be above the lion? Apple’s simple answer was Mountain Lion. It may not be above the lion in the food chain,but it certainly is in altitude.

In Apple’s “post-PC world”,is Mac OS no longer important? Maybe not entirely,but Apple seems to have begun integrating features of its mobile operating system — iOS — with Mac OS. The line between desktop and mobile operating systems is blurring and proof of that is the significant push towards an iCloud-integrated experience. Much more of your usage will be on the cloud when Mountain Lion hits stores. Among other new features are pop-up notifications,iMessage (a chat app),Game Center,etc. With features like Twitter integration and a more secure Mac App Store,the groundwork has been laid for a complete internet ecosystem.

Ubuntu 12.04

Codenamed Precise Pangolin,Ubuntu’s next release is 12.04 LTS. LTS stands for long-term support,which means the developers will keep releasing security and other updates for five years after its release.

The most important feature will be the inclusion of a new heads-up display (HUD),which makes it easy to find common menu items like file,edit,etc. Founder of Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) Mark Shuttleworth had said that the HUD would replace menus and users could simply type to access the options they want,without using the mouse. Imagine hitting the “z” key to gain access to the zoom option.

Other changes involve performance improvements,so the OS is expected to be more responsive and more focused on Ubuntu’s cloud service — Ubuntu One.

Ubuntu’s previous version was a major disappointment due to innumerable crashes and other usability issues. Since then,the operating system has come a long way and this version is expected to set a lot right.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Adobe’s Creative Suite 6 is in the works and one under-construction product is the industry-standard image-processing software – Photoshop. “I use an older version and I am happy to avoid the clutter in the newer ones” is a common refrain among many Photoshoppers. Not anymore. Adobe,it seems,sat a bunch of developers down and handed them one task – to clean up the interface. The result,quite frankly,is great. The default theme is darker than the older one,and it looks much more professional.

The menus are not intimidating,with handy auto colour-correction features to help new users.

There are far too many tweaks and features (skin selection,for example) to mention here and it should suffice to say that Adobe has managed to improve the basic features of Photoshop,which makes it worth a try.

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